Exclusive: CIA had role in Germany spy affair

WASHINGTON Mon Jul 7, 2014 2:37pm EDT

Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan speaks at a Council on Foreign Relations forum on the ''challenges and opportunities for the American intelligence Community and reflect on his first year as CIA director'' in Washington March 11, 2014. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)

Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan speaks at a Council on Foreign Relations forum on the ''challenges and opportunities for the American intelligence Community and reflect on his first year as CIA director'' in Washington March 11, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Central Intelligence Agency was involved in a spying operation against Germany that led to the alleged recruitment of a German intelligence official and has prompted renewed outrage in Berlin, two U.S. officials familiar with the matter said on Monday.

CIA Director John Brennan has asked to brief key members of the U.S. Congress on the matter, which threatens a new rupture between Washington and a close European ally, one of the officials said.

It was unclear if and when Brennan's briefing to U.S. lawmakers would take place. The CIA declined any comment on the matter.

The office of Germany's Federal Prosecutor, based in the western city of Karlsruhe, late last week issued a statement saying that a 31-year old man had been arrested on suspicion of being a foreign spy, and that investigations were continuing. The statement offered no further details.

German politicians have said that the suspect, an employee of the country's foreign intelligence service, admitted passing to an American contact details concerning a German parliamentary committee's investigation of alleged U.S. eavesdropping disclosed by Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the U.S. National Security Agency.

The U.S. officials who confirmed the CIA's role spoke on condition of anonymity, and offered no further details.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest declined comment on the dispute.

"The relationship that the United States has with Germany is incredibly important. This is a very close partnership that we have on a range of security issues, including some intelligence issues," Earnest said. "All of those things are high priorities not just to this administration, but to this country. So we're going to work with the Germans to resolve this situation appropriately."  

Snowden's revelations last year, which included evidence that the NSA was targeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel's personal cell phone, frosted U.S.-German relations. The White House agreed to stop targeting Merkel, but rejected Berlin's pleas for a wider "no spy" pact.

The latest case risks further straining ties.

"If the reports are correct it would be a serious case," Merkel told a news conference in Beijing, standing next to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

German media reported that the suspected spy, who has not been named, had first been detained on suspicion of contacting Russian intelligence agents, but then admitted he had worked with the Americans. The suspect worked for Germany's Federal Intelligence Service, known by the German initials BND.

While historically close, U.S. intelligence ties to Germany became strained over the last year in the wake of the Snowden revelations.

Snowden took refuge in Moscow last year after leaking tens of thousands of highly classified U.S. intelligence documents to media organizations.

(Additional reporting by Steve Holland. Editing By Warren Strobel and Andrew Hay)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (33)
Verpoly wrote:
CIA is known to do all dirty tricks in this game. They hold a gigantic budget to disperse funding to undercover, informants and foreign traitors of their governments. But most of the time, CIA ended up getting unworthy garbage intelligence. Stupid hawk.

Jul 07, 2014 3:09pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
anonymot wrote:
The intelligence level over at our CIA probably matches that of the espionage departments of Swaziland or Costa Rica (or maybe I have to apologize to the Swazis & Costa Ricans) but it is really pitiful. Although Brennan The Thug has only been Director for a year, he has been a major despicable influence for a long time. And before him the CIA incompetence dates back to the Korean war period, runs through the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, the drugs of Afghanistan,the WMDs of Iraq and then the whole series of ill-thought-through disasters called the Arab Spring, right up to the Ukraine/Putin miscalculations.

Our right-wing neofascists swear by them, because they make money out of it all. It’s like the stock brokers who make money by selling or buying for their clients. Then there are the oil people. Finally there are those who control the 600 BILLION DOLLARS OF Drugs that change hands every year.

The CIA is often accused of being very involved in the drug business, but the thing that they hide well, if it’s not their spying, it’s what happens with the drug world and any connection they may have to it. Allegedly that goes to such high levels in Washington that no one can touch it.

The Homeland under Jehs should be disbanded. Bad jokes like Clapper, Brennan, Jehs and their incompetent likes should be put out to the corporate world and a real set of public servants should be put in a reorganized security establishment – if it’s not too late.

Jul 07, 2014 3:14pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
ReadandShare wrote:
And we dare lecture others about transparency and the rule of law and all that??

Jul 07, 2014 3:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.